9 Tips To Avoid Cross-Browser Compatibility Issues from the start

9 Tips To Avoid Cross-Browser Compatibility Issues from the start

| January 4, 2021

The software market is growing at a very fast pace today and so are the devices, browsers, and OS. It is vital for any business or software to provide a great user experience to a broader user base. An application should work on different devices like mobile, laptop, tablets, and smart televisions according to the purpose of the application. Also, all possible browsers and OS combinations possible.

In case the application does not support an environment then it should provide the basic functionality with minimum features. In this way, we will be able to make the application functional for all the targeted users. 

How can we achieve this? We can do so by focusing on Cross-Browser compatibility issues. 

To avoid Cross-Browser compatibility issues in the production environment we can follow below points-

1. Validate HTML and CSS

Different browsers read, interpret, and handle the code differently. It is quite expected that developers may omit certain ‘closing tag’ or ‘semicolon’ in the syntax while writing code. While most of the browsers may auto-correct such syntax errors few older browsers may not do so. Such errors may pose problems while rendering for old browsers like Internet Explorer. 

While coding such errors can be avoided by adopting the below steps –

  • Writing well-aligned code
  • Inserting comments wherever required
  • Indentation and matching the opening-closing braces

Also, to make it easier there are validation tools available in the market. To handle such situations developers use the below tools for code validation-

  • W3C HTML validator
  • Jigsaw CSS validator
  • JS Formatter for HTML
  • CSS Lint
  • JS Lint

2. Maintain layout compatibility

We need a responsive application which works on all devices, platforms, and browsers including all versions. The layout of the application should appear perfect and standard in all the environments where it will be used after release.

Read more on Cross-Browser compatibility testing of responsive applications.

The reasons for layout incompatibility can be –

  • The layout design is unresponsive on mobile devices.
  • Differences in the rendering of layout design by modern browsers.
  • Modern browsers do not support some layouts.

 Methods to maintain layout compatibility-

  • HTML viewport metatag– It ensures that the content is properly spanned across a mobile screen.  
  • CSS Multi-Column layouts– It helps in maintaining the proper layout of multiple column content according to the layout of the container.
  • CSS Flexbox and Grid– These techniques help in laying out child elements based on their content and the space available for rendering.

3. Use CSS resets

Browsers have a default design layout which is applied to the website running on them. In order to apply another design layout to the application, developers need to override the default design. If this is not done then the same application will be rendered differently on different browsers. 

This CSS reset is done in code by using CSS reset style sheets by developers. This way any layout design issue can be avoided.

Examples of CSS reset style sheets are-

  • Github based Normalize.css
  • HTML5 Reset
  • Eric Meyer’s Reset CSS

4. Provide support for basic features of the application

We should cross-check the application for providing the native features across different sets of browsers. If a browser doesn’t support the code then our application should be in a position to provide a different set of code which will run on that particular browser. This will ensure that the application’s basic features are available to the users in any case.

This concept is called feature detection where we are safeguarding the application against an event where the browser doesn’t support the code. Therefore we provide an alternate code to run on the browser to provide a seamless experience for the user.

We can implement feature detection in code by-

  • Write your own feature detection code for CSS and JavaScript.
  • Use feature detection libraries- e.g. Modernizr, Polyfill, etc.

5. Check JavaScript issues

Below steps can be taken to avoid the Cross-Browser compatibility issues related to JavaScript-

  • Judicious use of JavaScript library, to make sure that the library supports browsers and features of the application.
  • JavaScript code using the latest features of ES6/ECMAScript may not work on older browsers. JavaScript Transpiling converts the ES6/ECMAScript based code into a code which can run on older browsers as well.

6. Check DOCTYPE tag

The DOCTYPE keyword is used to define the rules we want to use in the code. We should define DOCTYPE in the code so that the web browser knows the rules and does not go haywire.

Older versions of Internet Explorer check for the DOCTYPE tag at the beginning of the code. If the tag is not found then the application is not properly rendered.

A browser works in three modes they are-

  • Full standard mode- There are stricter checks by the browser in full standard mode. Browser checks for the errors according to the W3C specifications.
  • Almost standard mode- A very few quirks are implemented.
  • Quirk mode- It provides backward compatibility to older browsers. In a quirk, mode browsers do not perform error checks. The layout emulates non-standard behaviour.

Therefore when a code misses a DOCTYPE tag the browser moves to quirk mode and then stops performing error checks and behaves in a non-standard manner. Hence, it is important to add the DOCTYPE tag at the beginning of the code.

7. Test on real devices

Although we can test an application on virtual machines and environments. For more effective testing real devices are the perfect platform. To avoid Cross-Browser compatibility issues later we should test the application on real desktops, mobiles, tablets, and laptops.

To set up a real device lab manually is impossible, in such cases we take the help of Cross-Browser testing tools. While there are tools that let you execute your cross browser test cases manually or lets you automate them and then execute them, you need to decide what is it that you need.

Testsigma, an automated cross browser testing tool, provides immediate access to thousands of browser-OS combinations to the users. You can run test cases in parallel across the real devices in less time. You may choose from the thousands of environments available on the cloud or test on the local machines present in our office premises.

8. Use frameworks and libraries that support Cross-Browser compatibility

We should use frameworks and libraries which are standard and which support Cross-Browser compatibility to make our life easier.

1. For JavaScript :

  • jQuery
  • AngularJS
  • ReactJS

2. For CSS:

  • Bootstrap
  • Foundation
  • 960 grid

9. Test early

It is advised to start Cross-Browser testing as soon as one page of the application is ready. It will help uncover the compatibility issues early in the development cycle and will be fixed quickly. We should not wait till the later stages of the development cycle to start testing.

Since Cross-Browser compatibility testing requires test coverage of a number of environments. Hence, we should try to minimise the stress and challenges in the later part of the cycle.

Check out a tool that lets you automate your cross browser compatibility testing from the very start.

We will be able to avoid most of the Cross-Browser compatibility issues following the above steps. However, the supporting step for all these precautions is through Cross-Browser compatibility testing. For effective testing, we should use automated Cross-Browser compatibility testing tools.

They are easier to use, provide thousands of environments immediately, provide parallel testing, are scalable, provide testing on real devices, and provide better reporting and logging. Hence, automated Cross-Browser testing tools are essential for effective and faster Cross-Browser compatibility testing of the application.


Read about the 8 essential elements of an automated cross browser compatibility testing tool.